Fife actor relishes the chaos & comedy as Peter Pan Goes Wrong comes to Scottish theatres

It’s a show where everything goes wrong deliberately - from dodgy sets to fluffed lines, technical issues and slips and trips.
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The format has been wowing audiences in the West End for a decade, and enjoyed huge success with touring versions, the latest of which, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, opens at the Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh, on Tuesday (February 27). Mischief Theatre - the company behind the shows - has hit a winning formula which embraces Buster Keaton inspired slapstick, finely tuned physical comedy with razor sharp timing, and farce.

Clark Devlin, who stars in Peter Pan Goes Wrong, sums it up: “From the very start it is on the go - not so much a gag every minute as every three seconds.”

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The Fife born actor went to Dunfermline High School and came through the ranks at Carnegie Youth Theatre, so the Scottish dates - the play also has a week in Glasgow - is as close as it gets to coming home. It’s not his first time in a show designed to go wrong in every possible way; he was part of The Play That Goes Wrong, joining the cast in its West End run.

Clark Devlin (right) on stage with Peter Pan Goes wrong which opens at the Playhouse Theatre on February 27 (Pic: Pamela Raith)Clark Devlin (right) on stage with Peter Pan Goes wrong which opens at the Playhouse Theatre on February 27 (Pic: Pamela Raith)
Clark Devlin (right) on stage with Peter Pan Goes wrong which opens at the Playhouse Theatre on February 27 (Pic: Pamela Raith)

“There are slips and falls, mistakes, technical errors - so much going on, and it is relentless for the cast and the audience, but it also great fun,” he said; “I have never seen anything like this before. The Play That Goes Wrong has such a loyal following. People even know the lines which is fantastic.”

In Peter Pan, the story revolves around Cornley Drama Society’s bid to bring the classic JM Barrie story to the stage. Clark play the role of Dennis, an actor who cannot remember his lines. "I can relate to that!” Clark laughed.

“To the drama society it is Peter Pan, and not Peter Pan Goes Wrong. Dennis is terrible at remembering his lines and getting them wrong, but he loves being part of the society. He is just happy to be there, make pals and be on stage - and he is trying his best, but he has headphones on, and someone speaking to him to help him through his role. You can imagine all the things that can go wrong with that!”

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The hallmark of the ‘goes wrong’ shows is their speed and slickness - and even before it starts members of the society’s stage crew are among the audience spreading the mayhem into the auditorium.

“It is great fun,” said Clark. “It looks like chaos but it is organised. We’ve rehearsed to within an inch of our lives, so if something actually does go wrong we can quickly adjust. We rehearsed for one month in a giant studio which meant the whole set could be used throughout - we have a revolving house with three different compartments - so that time was invaluable.”

The tour takes London-based Clark back on the road - he was in Sheffield, when we spoke, ironically at the theatre where he made his pro debut back in 2008. “ To come back all these years later was exciting,” he said.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh from February 27 to March 2. Ticket details here

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